The construction industry isn't often associated with the green movement, largely because it's continued relying on traditional building methods long after the craze hit its peak. However, this stereotype is being challenged by start-ups and tech companies who see a niche market they can capitalize on. Luckily, developers, construction companies, and buyers alike are all starting to come around to more sustainable building methods. New home buyers often make a decision based on sustainable building materials and techniques. Learn more about which trends are starting to gain traction in the Canadian housing market.
Using the Earth's Core
The Earth's core is a stable temperature no matter how hot or cold it happens to be on its surface. Canadians who aren't used to seeing the sun's rays often can use geothermal heating rather than solar power to heat and cool their homes all year round.
Geothermal energy uses a compression system and pumps to circulate the 15.5° C air to all the rooms of the home. This air can also be adjusted or augmented as need be to fit the homeowner's personal temperature requirements. And while geothermal heating does use some electricity, it can save homeowners up to 65% on their utility bills.
No More Outsourcing
When a construction company decides to outsource materials, they usually do so because of the money they can save. What they may not consider is just how much energy is used to ship and store materials that have to be transported across long distances. The costs of transport can build over time, making the cost savings a marginal win (at best) for the company.
Today, developers have more options to buy locally. More companies are finding ways to create in-demand products within Canada without a substantial price increase. This is true of even the more exotic products that a building may use. For example, some companies are growing bamboo species in Canada, so construction companies don't have to set up partnerships in Asia to put the finishing touches on their building.
The more water is reclaimed from harvesting systems, the more drinking water everyone can share. Some construction companies have even been able to eliminate water bills entirely for the homeowners who purchase their properties. Both rural and urban households can benefit from water harvesting because rainwater is usually higher quality than that which comes from a dam or river.
Rain water harvesting is a sustainable choice for new and old construction alike, as these systems can be retrofitted to many older homes. (However, if a home contains asbestos or other harmful materials, it cannot be retrofitted with a water harvesting system.)
Reuse and Recycle
One of the best ways to build is to put old materials to good use. Today, companies are doing everything they can to reimagine what a building material is. So an old Heineken bottle can be a new brick for a home. An old pair of jeans can be used to insulate a home. Shed bark can become new siding. And old tires or corks can become new floors.
The companies who are turning these products into new materials can either hide the materials or refashion them into an attractive new product. Ultimately, it means homeowners don't have to choose between sustainability and aesthetics.
Taking Back VOCs
A volatile organic compound is one that can pollute an area with toxic fumes. Too many VOCs in the air and inhabitants can respond with chronic health problems (e.g., asthma, allergies, etc.). From the paint on the walls to the glue that binds the wallpaper, VOCs are more common than homeowners realizing.
The demand to remove these compounds from products has been met by plenty of companies taking action. The competition makes it easier for builders to shun VOCs for more environmentally friendly products. When citrus can be used as an effective paint thinner and flour can be used as a strong binder, there's no reason to expose people to harmful fumes any longer.
The Old and New
The modern technology of the day is so advanced that people may think we have no use for the methodology of yesteryear. But some clever companies are looking to the ancient world for present-day tips. In drier climates, homes made of compressed Earth were common. This mix of soil and clay worked well in the sun but could easily be destroyed in a rainstorm. However, when combined with a water run-off system, compressed Earth can once again become a valid building method that can be used in Canadian homes.
The sustainable trends of today are fed as much by demand as they are by market competition. Only time will tell which sustainable trends become the new normal. However, the advancements are certainly promising to any responsible Saprae Creek homeowner who wants to do the right thing for the planet.